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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Monday, 23 September 2013

Sweet and sour thoughts on Open House London weekend

The 21st annual Open House London weekend has been bigger and more popular than ever, hitting the news with reports of 18,000 strong queues in Battersea  to get a first and final glimpse of the interior of the derelict power station.

Being 60 miles from the city this weekend, am feeling rather envious and sad not to be there. But then again, am beginning, in a very churlish way,  to dislike these admirable initiatives.

This year's , for example, has acted as a great piece of extra publicity for the developers of the Battersea Power Station site - offering a tantalising glimpse of what remains of the interior for two afternoons before turning the whole place into a property goldmine of luxury apartments. With or without plastic chimneys.

Surely this is just an old bugger's sour grapes? Open House London was and remains a brilliant idea, to persuade the owners of all manner of strange and wonderful buildings - from the grandest palace to the most humble council flat - to open doors to public for one weekend.

It started in 1992 and has become so popular and successful that it is an institution in itself, supported by loads of sponsors and copied in 20 or so other cities around the world.

Yes, it allows vogueish architects the chance to show off their gorgeous homes to aesthetically-avaricious audiences of Wallpaper* readers, so what?  It has also given the interested public the chnace to wander around in some of the strangest, most exclusive, most secret, most outrageous built spaces in the most arcjhticturally-bloated conurbation in the western world. Such as - the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Or the Blizard Building at Queen Mary's College in Whitechapel.

Wish it had been around in 1968!

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